How 4 Republican Senators Turned Their Backs on Servicemen Discharged for Rejecting COVID Vaccine Mandate

Let’s say you believe right-wing media and Republicans in Congress. If so, there is much to celebrate on the military mandate front of the COVID vaccine. The president signed the bill into law, and the Pentagon rescinded a subsequent mandate that all military members must get the COVID vaccine to remain in uniform.

But what about the thousands of veterans who were unceremoniously discharged because their religious exemption requests were stamped DENIED by the Department of Defense? As it stands today, I’m on the creek without a paddle.

Though it wasn’t for lack of trying, four Republican senators voted against an amendment to the signed bill that would have returned them to service.

So let’s look at what happened and how a spineless group of four lawmakers made the decision not to support these veterans.

Right the wrong

Republican Senator Ron Johnson introduced the amendment I refer to. Not only would the amendment reinstate military members who were discharged for refusing the vaccine, it would do the following:

  • Refund provided
  • Separation status has been changed to Honorable

In addition to those significant and valid portions of the amendment above, Senator Johnson’s amendment would have prohibited the Department of Defense from issuing future vaccine mandates without Congressional authorization.

This all sounds pretty amazing, I’d say, particularly if you’re a Republican politician who claims to care about America’s best and bravest.

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Senator Johnson outlined how many are impacted by the COVID vaccine disruption, saying:

“Over 8,000 have been fired because they refused to get the experimental vaccine.”

But it wasn’t enough for the four Republican senators who drove the nails into the coffin with the rejected amendment 56 to 40. 60 votes would have been needed to pass.

I’ll let the math come into play.


The four Republicans who voted against reinstating discharged veterans over the vaccine were:

  • Senator Mitt Romney of Utah
  • Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota
  • Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana
  • Senator Susan Collins of Maine

Senator Cassidy explained his vote as follows:

“I voted to end the mandate of the COVID vaccine in the military, but it’s not up to Congress to step in the chain of command and set a precedent for military personnel to ignore direct orders.”

Mr. Cassidy’s statement makes it appear that thousands of military veterans tossed the bird to their commanding officers and told them where to push it when told to get the vaccine. Like they haven’t gone through a process to request an exemption, but I’ll get to that shortly.

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Democratic Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island doubled down on this ludicrous oversimplification of what happened to these veterans, stating:

“What we’re saying to the soldiers is: if you don’t agree, don’t follow the order and just lobby Congress. … They’ll reset everything, so the orders are just kind of a hint. I’m not.”

Oh you idiot, there are so many things wrong with your statement. Let me explain.


There is a process going on, and it has been since before COVID that military members have been requesting various vaccine exemptions. While I was in the military and a senior executive, most of the exemptions I saw were in relation to religious exemptions and COVID was no different.

These religious exemptions are part of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act or RFRA. The RFRA protects the religious freedoms of individuals against government laws that contradict their beliefs.

There is now a process for reviewing and approving these requests; just because you say you have a religious exemption for a vaccine doesn’t mean your application is automatically approved. There must be some justification typically provided by military chaplains and member statements.

Strangely though, most of the religious exemptions related to the COVID vaccine have been denied with little or no actual review. The Pentagon’s inspector general also reported a high “non-compliance potential” within the Department of Defense with many of these rejections.

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So not only were most of these denials inappropriate, but once your claim is denied, you have to make a decision that First Liberty Institute director of military affairs, Mike Berry, illustrates:

“…military leaders are forcing tens of thousands of our bravest out of service because they chose to live by their faith.”

Certainly a far cry from how the four Republicans and all Democrats characterize these men and women as petulant children who refuse to follow orders.

If not you, then who?

For those of you who want to argue that we should score victories where we can score them, let me open your eyes to the back door the Pentagon has inserted into the directive to allow them to continue to persecute troops who do not succumb to the COVID Vaccine Mandate.

The new directive states:

“All commanders have the responsibility and authority to maintain the Department’s compelling interest in mission accomplishment. This responsibility and authority includes the ability to maintain military readiness, unit cohesion, good order and discipline, and the health and safety of a resilient joint force.

Now, let’s say you’re not adept at reading DOD jargon or reading between the lines of military leadership’s bureaucratic propaganda. If so, you may not see the back door.

This directive still leaves the option for Commanders to discharge those who decide not to receive the COVID vaccine if they can demonstrate that it harms readiness, cohesion, good order and discipline, health and safety.

Unit cohesion, good order, and discipline are terribly difficult to pin down, particularly if your commanding officer is vying for the next rank. But more often than not, the definition is bending the knee to the ideology of those in power.

So, Senator Cassidy, it’s up to you to step into the chain of command when that chain of command has abused its power and violated the religious freedoms our veterans are sworn to protect and defend.

So, Senator Romney, you should restore the good order and discipline that should have been in the military religious exemption process after these veterans pressed you to do the right thing.

But that would require all of you to give a damn about your veterans. And since they don’t have anywhere near as much money or political capital for you as other lobbyists like Big Education, Big Tech, Military Industrial Complex, Big Pharma and all the rest, I guess these veterans should do what we always do. been told to do:

Shut up and color.

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